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Whether your car’s fresh off the lot or a seasoned used vehicle, problems with the complex machinery under the hood are bound to surface. Radiators are particularly prone to issues because of the regular heat and pressure they are exposed to. While there are a number of problems that can confront them, there are a few more common issues you’re likely to encounter at some point. Once you understand the basics of how a car radiator works, identifying these common problems is relatively simple.
With all the fluid moving in and out, radiator leaks are inevitable. Leaks within the body of the radiator itself are often difficult to locate and even more challenging to repair. Fortunately, more often than not it is the hoses which transport coolant between the radiator and engine that are the source of leaks. As a wear component, hoses should be replaced periodically whether or not there is a leak present, as this will prevent sudden issues.
If there is any part that ranks number one among culprits for radiator problems, the thermostat is the top contender. While not technically part of the radiator itself, it is the primary mechanism responsible for controlling the amount of coolant released in and out of the radiator, thus regulating the engine’s temperature. This constant regulation means the thermostat is always working hard, and failure will quickly lead to the vehicle overheating. Unlike hoses and other components, car thermostats can be a bit more complicated to diagnose or repair, so unless you are particularly knowledgeable, it may be worth having a mechanic from a company like Quiet Masters Mufflers to handle this repair.
The cooling system is delicate and requires strict conditions to maintain a proper flow. When clogs and obstructions prevent this, your car is likely to overheat. Obstructions can be caused after accidents or other damage to the vehicle that cause the tubes to become pinched. Interestingly, one of the main inhibitors to the flow of coolant from the system is actually air bubbles, which drastically reduce the efficiency of the system. These bubbles can only be removed by bleeding and replacing coolant from the system.
Fixing issues with the hoses won’t matter if the pump itself is damaged. The pump ultimately supplies the pressure that allows coolant to move in and out of the engine and radiator. Broken water pumps are fairly common and once damaged, car overheating is inevitable. A middle-of-the-road water pump should last about 100,000 miles, so consider getting a replacement once you’ve reached that point.
The key to avoiding radiator issues is to handle individual component failures before they happen. Check hoses for blockages and replace them regularly, track mileage to see if it’s time for a new water pump, and only handle repairs like putting in a new thermostat once you’re more knowledgeable. If you’re vigilant in your maintenance you should be able to avoid most common radiator issues.